BENGALURU: On Tuesday, after nearly two decades of waiting, the lists for all 198 ward committees were submitted and put up on the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) website. This should have been a reason to rejoice for citizens, as they would finally get a chance to be directly involved in matters affecting their wards, instead residents were thoroughly disappoined. Citizen activists allege that these lists are full of discrepancies, and favour friends and families of corporators.
Civic groups say the many anomalies point towards politicisation of the appointment of ward committee members. They say the lists contain names of husbands of female corporators, party workers, relatives of coporators, BBMP contractors and even some with criminal records. A quick glance through the lists by City Express revealed that few ward committee members were indeed husbands of the women corporators.
Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), a city-based civic group that has been fighting for the democratisation of ward committee appointment process, were the ones fronting the protests and helping citizens file RTIs to enquire why their names have been left out of lists despite meeting all criteria. Srinivas Alavilli, co-founder of CfB, says, “After seeing the lists, we’re now going to try and appeal to the BBMP commissioner to cancel the entire process and redo the lists. There are anyway three more years before the next BBMP elections, so even if it takes time start over with these lists, it’ll at least ensure that the process is democratic.”
He adds that female corporators allowing their husbands to take charge is quite common, as 50 per cent corporator setas are reserved for women. So the men who don’t get a chance to become corporator, use their wife’s name to lead the show, and by being part of the ward committee, they can further ensure their role in the ward. At a hearing yesterday, citizens appealed to the court about the discrepancies they found, and have asked for a do-over to ensure that ward committees stop being an extension of the party office.
Kathyayani Chamraj, executive trustee of NGO, Civic, says, “While we did let the court know about what we found on the lists, they have insisted that the BBMP themselves file an affidavit by the next hearing (which will be at the beginning of next month) clearly showing what their selection criteria and process was for choosing ward committee members is. They also want the lists and criteria to be translated to English from Kannada.” Chamraj adds that they found ten corporator’s husbands on ward committee lists, and that she too is wants a complete redoing of the entire process.